Basic bank accounts help those with poor credit scores get a bank account. Basic bank accounts are what they say they are. They come with no strings attached, frills or anything else you would associate with a standard current account. You put your money in and you take it out. They are often fee-free.
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What is a basic bank account?
Basic bank accounts are stripped-back accounts with fewer features – most notably without an overdraft facility. These accounts are made available to customers with poor credit scores. In fact, they’re typically available without the need for a credit search. You can check your own credit score here.
With these accounts, you will still be able to set up direct debits and standing orders. In most cases, you’ll also be given a debit card and access to online and telephone banking.
There are no monthly fees with these accounts. However, you shouldn’t expect to earn interest on credit balances or receive an overdraft. Additionally, perks like cashback are much rarer (although not unheard of) on Basic accounts.
Who can open a basic bank account?
The main selling point of basic bank accounts is that they have wider eligibility criteria. If you are a UK resident, you should be able to open one of these accounts. Learn more about opening a bank account as a non-UK resident.
Requirements to open a basic bank account
In most cases, you can open a basic bank account with proof of ID and proof of address. You’ll need to be at least 16 years old. Read our guides to find out more about opening an account if you do not have proof of ID or proof of address.
In some cases, you won’t need to pass a credit check to open an account. Even if you do, those with low credit scores are still likely to pass.
How to manage a basic bank account
Most basic bank accounts come with a debit card and online banking, just like regular bank accounts.
Alternatives to basic bank accounts
If you’re looking for a simple way to open a bank account, but with more flexibility in managing your money, you may want to consider opening an account with a digital-only challenger bank.
You could try a digital bank like Starling Bank or Revolut. The application process can be completed by downloading the respective app, making it quick and hassle-free, and you may not need to undergo a credit check for a simple account without an overdraft facility.
Like a high-street bank, some of these online-only banks offer Financial Services Compensation Scheme protection, meaning that if the bank ever hits financial trouble, your deposits will be protected by the government up to an £85,000 limit.
With Starling Bank, you can choose from a personal account that charges no fees for overseas ATM withdrawals or transactions and offers some in-credit interest. With Revolut, as well as all the regular functions of a basic current account, you have the flexibility to transfer money abroad in more than 30 currencies with the interbank exchange rate and its multi-currency card lets you hold up to 30 currencies at a time.
While these banks don’t have physical branches, you can manage your account via the bank’s smartphone app, using live chat messages and in some cases telephone services. It’s also worth noting that Starling Bank allows its personal account customers to deposit money via the Post Office network.
There are also UK banking providers who specialise in offering personal accounts that you can open without a credit check, such as Cashplus and thinkmoney though these accounts come with a fee.
Pros and cons of Basic Bank Accounts
- Relaxed eligibility criteria.
- Debit cards and online banking are usually available.
- All features and perks are stripped back.
Basic bank accounts are not as good as regular bank accounts. However, these can be a life-saver for those who get rejected for any other type of account due to a poor credit score.
Frequently asked questions
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